In Botswana, over 500 endangered vultures were poisoned from eating three elephant carcasses. The carcasses were poisoned by poachers. All of the vultures that were poisoned are now dead.
In total, there were 537 vultures across 5 species who suffered the fate. This included 468 white-backed vultures, 28 hooded vultures, 17 white-headed vultures, 14 lappet-faced vultures, and 10 cape vultures were all killed according to an official statement from the Botswana government.
All of these vulture species are either classified as endangered or critically endangered.
Was This an Accident?
Poachers are illegal hunters who disregard laws and hunt animals regardless of how rare they are. Vultures are scavengers, which means they search for dead animals to eat.
Since this is an illegal action, poachers need to stay hidden. But when they do kill an animal illegally, it doesn’t take long for vultures to show up.
However, a large gathering of vultures makes it easy for law enforcement to find where poachers are hunting. Thus, it is not likely that this was an accident. It’s feasible this was a calculated poisoning to reduce the vulture population.
This is also not the first intentional poisoning. In 2013, a similar event occurred and led to another 500 birds dying in Namibia.
Vultures Are Vital To The Ecosystem
While vultures may be a problem for poachers, they are essential for a healthy ecosystem. Since they consume the remains of already hunted animals, they clean up the environment.
Why is this important?
Because dead animals can spread diseases. Scavengers, like vultures, ensure that these do not spread by eating the remains. Thus, they ensure a healthy and clean ecosystem.
The law enforcement agencies are working hard to decontaminate the area. This will reduce the poison from spreading, but the damage has already been done.
Animal Extinction Is Getting Worse
Over 1 million species are facing extinction due to human activity. While a big factor is climate change, poaching is an equally important factor.
Poachers intentionally hunt endangered animals and push them closer to extinction. Conservation efforts are not enough to protect these animals.
The exorbitant prices these endangered species fetch on the black market ensure there is no shortage of poachers.
The deaths of these endangered vultures will have a huge impact on the ecosystem of the area.